Graphic Design Can Cause Seizures

Thursday, July 05, 2007

In a world where a logo can induce epileptic seizures (as did the 2012 London Olympics logo), being a graphic designer involves a lot of responsibility. Graphic design expert and critic Michael Bierut joins us to answer your questions about logos, packaging, and fonts. His recent book is Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design.

Seventy-nine Short Essays is available for purchase at


Michael Bierut

Comments [7]

Lar from iQ Content

...which you later correct yourself in the mp3. If I had a tail it would be between my legs right now.

Great show, btw, first time on, now a subscriber.

Jul. 20 2007 02:55 PM
Lar from iQ Content


just to give you a minor correction on the Olympics logo issue, it was not the logo that caused the epileptic seizures, but rather an animation designed to introduce the logo that caused them.

Having said that the logo is entirely crap.


Jul. 20 2007 02:51 PM
Martin from Los Angeles

It is a shame that such vociferousness continues (as expressed in one of the previous posts) against graphic design as having transgressed firm delineations in the creation of a work of art.

I was fortunate enough to have a fine arts education in high school and a major in graphic design, with minors in photography and jewelry, in college. I never understood the need for boundaries (dictated by purists in arts both "commercial" and "fine") when I was in college, and I don't understand it now.

True, a work such as the Vietnam Memorial (conceived by an accomplished artist who also works as an architect and does not seem to have any issues crossing boundaries) is not the sole result of "graphic design", just as it is not the result of "sculpture", nor "architecture", nor "landscape design" -- it is a combination of all these fields, and more.

Jul. 13 2007 05:32 PM
Christopher Fahey from New York

Amy, the Vietnam Memorial is a sculpture that uses graphic design. Maya Lin chose a typeface, decided on the layout, organized the information. Your argument is like saying that there can be no architecture in a painting, or that there can be no poetry in a song. All artists practice and master many skills from fields other than that which they define themselves, and Maya Lin is a great example of that. The commercial/fine art distinction is entirely superficial -- graphic design is more like engineering, a skill not a philosophy, and if you think about it sculptors practice engineering, too.

Jul. 11 2007 06:02 PM
Amy from Boulder, CO

The Vietnam Memorial is anything but graphic design. Its a sculpture and a memorial. Sculptors are not called graphic designers because they are sculptors. It is offensive, to the artist, Maya Lin whom conceived the idea for the memorial, to call it graphic design.

I am not saying a graphic designer is an insulting term, I am saying the process a sculptor goes through to conceive artwork is completely different from that of a graphic designer and the two should not be mixed up. One is largely directed towards fine art and the other towards commercial art.

The fact alone that there is only ONE demonstrates that it was not graphic design.

Jul. 09 2007 08:45 PM
June Rose from NYC

The "V" of the Viet Nam memorial is more complex than just "Viet Nam". It is brilliant to use it. the "V" is Victory for some. The V sign is also the Peace sign, used ubiquitously as an anti-war statement.

Jul. 05 2007 01:51 PM
Eric Cato from B'klyn

The implicit power and suggestion of the iconic image of the earth in space

Jul. 05 2007 01:49 PM

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